Tolerance of differing views and opinions is the foundation of a free society. Throughout history, elimination of opposition through the suppression of free speech has been one of the first steps taken by fascists determined to seize power in order to control a society.
People who tolerate intolerance empower these fascists. If you remain silent because you disagree with those who are not tolerated, you are in effect laying the foundation for you to be the next target of intolerance.
Intolerance always precedes fascism. Fascists must force their agenda on a population. They cannot convince people of the worth of their ideas in an open exchange of ideas. The only way fascists succeed is through the silencing of their opposition
Fascists eliminate freedom. Freedom is destroyed through intolerance; intolerance of free speech, intolerance of differing opinions, and ultimately, intolerance of freedom. This is a dangerous road which leads to untold suffering and misery.
In the 1930's, when Hitler's Nazis started rounding up different groups of people there wasn't the outcry from the general population that there should have been. Each group thought they were safe because they weren't yet the target.
When intolerance goes unanswered, its evil tentacles become entrenched in the fabric of a society. As intolerance becomes institutionalized, governmental force is routinely used to silence all those who stand in opposition.
What's even worse are people who support targeting those groups they don't agree with. Martin Niemller (1892-1984) was a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler, leading to his spending the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps.
Here is the poignant poem by Niemller that gets to the core of just how treacherous it is to tolerate intolerance:
And Then They Came for Me by Martin Niemller.
First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics,
And I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Catholic.
Then they came for me,
And there was no one left to speak for me.
"Tolerance for me but not for thee," is the implicit mantra of those seeking to impose their views, ideology, and intentions on others. Hypocritically, they publicly claim to advocate tolerance while stridently working to silence anyone disagreeing with them.
Those seeking to subjugate a population always utilize fraud and deception to perpetrate their sinister agenda.
Intolerance is a foundation of fascism and tyranny. Opposition is silenced, imprisoned, or vanquished. This scenario has recurred endlessly throughout human history. This process may begin on a small scale but gains momentum as opposition is systematically eliminated.
Intolerance is a well-established tool used by those seeking to subjugate a population through the elimination of freedom. These power hungry people take hypocrisy to new levels by openly appearing to preach tolerance while actively attempting to suppress those disagreeing with them.
In order for a free society to survive and thrive, an open exchange of all views, opinions, and ideas is essential. When an individual or group attempts to silence opposition, freedom is in peril. If the population allows dissent to be silenced through apathy, inaction or support, then freedom has perished.
History repeats itself when people fail to learn from the past.